Hot Chocolate Season

Autumn, for me, is a gift giving season.  Mainly, this is because of my wife.  Her birthday, our anniversary, and Christmas are all within weeks of each other.

A few years ago, while scrambling to find enough unique and interesting gifts, I came across an English chocolatier who hand crafts his chocolates using organic and fair trade ingredients wherever possible.  He does charge a premium price for his goods, but, as my wife really enjoys his work, I won't complain.

This year, I decided to try a new(er) product:  Origin Drinking Chocolate.  This is chocolate sold in powder form, ready to be mixed into hot milk and turned into delicious hot chocolate.  We started with the Peruvian selection as it is both organic and fair trade.  The chocolate comes in a dark glass, with a high quality, stoppered lid.  Natural language instructions, written to be easily understandable for people who are not cooks and chefs, are printed directly on the label.

We were able to make up a batch quite easily and quite quickly.  One caveat, as this is more natural chocolate, made with cocoa beans and a minimum of cocoa butter (as opposed to more readily available mass market brands) when mixed with milk, cream, sugar, etc. it does not blend as smoothly as, say, Swiss Miss.  This chocolate requires straining which may throw some off, thinking they have a defective batch.  However, that unusual quality aside, this is easily the best hot chocolate either of us has ever had.

One final thought, we have also found that adding in just a splash of amaretto or grenadine can add a nice bite, while adding vodka and a coffee liquor can make a very nice cocktail.

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